MacTavish Clan

MacTavish Clan Crest: A boars head.

MacTavish Clan Motto: Non Oblitus (Not forgetful).

History of Clan MacTavish:
Tradition suggests that Tavis Coir, second natural son of Gillespick, son of Callen moir math (“Bald headed Coline”), was the progenitor of Clan MacTavish. Historically he was connected by blood to Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King of Ireland, who was also ancestor of Clan MacNeil and Clan Maclachlan.  The MacTavishes followed the Clan Campbell Chiefs, and held lands in the vicinity of Kilmartin in Argyll, encompassing Dunadd, ancient heartland of the Kings of Dalriada.

Doncan M'Thamais was cited as a witness regarding the lands of Glassre in Argyll in 1355. In 1480, Duncan McTawisch is on record as being tenant of half of Kernach, Strogartnay.  According to Black's The Surnames of Scotland, The Mactavishes of Stratherrick are considered to be a Sept of Clan Fraser.

Ewin McCawes fell fighting for James IV at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. As followers of Clan Campbell, the MacTavishes did not officially take part in the 1715 and 1745 Uprisings, although there were some MacTavish clansmen who allied themselves with other clans to fight at the Battle of Culloden.  It was also discovered that  Dugald MacTavish, Younger of Dunardry, was sympathetic towards Prince Charles Edward Stuart and he was arrested and imprisoned in Dumbarton Castle.

Lachlan MacTavish of Dunardry became Sheriff Substitute of Kintyre, but partly as a result of the building of the Crinan Canal, which split the MacTavish lands in two, ran into financial difficulties. In 1785, he was forced to sell Dunardry and move to Edinburgh where he was appointed Governor of Taxes to the Crown. His son Dugald, who became a lawyer, fathered ten children, the second of whom, William, sailed to Canada to work for the Hudson Bay Company.  In 1885, he became Governor of Assinaboia and Ruperts Land (now Manitoba).

In 1997, William's great-great grandson, Edward Stewart Dugald MacTavish of Dunardry, was recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms as 26th Chief of the Name and Arms of MacTavish, thus confirming MacTavish as a distinct Highland clan. He died in 2005, and his son Steven Edward Dugald MacTavish became the 27th Chief of MacTavish.

Surname distribution in Scotland: The MacTavish name is most common in Highland (incorporates the historic counties of Caithness, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland and small areas of Argyllshire and Morayshire) and Argyll and Bute.

Places of Interest:
Dunadd, Argyll. Ancient seat of the Kings of Dalriada. This was once the epicentre of MacTavish lands.

Kilmartin Churchyard, Argyll. A 14th century tombstone shows a mediaeval knight with helmet and spear, and across his chest is carved MacTavish.

Clan MacTavish membership certificates.